The Versatility of Desktop Virtualization
I’m assuming that most of you have heard of server virtualization by now? Well, in this brief article I’m going to talk strictly desktop virtualization, which has become an increasingly popular trend for businesses or individuals that need to run multiple applications or ‘environments’ at once.
In a nutshell, desktop virtualization is creating virtual computers or ‘machines’ or ‘VMs’ that run on existing physical computing resources. For example, we can create virtual computers that run and use the same hardware from your ‘host’ computer, i.e. RAM, hard disk, processors, and other devices.
Desktop virtualization can refer to either running complete operating systems on top of a host system such as a PC or Mac, or a server that emulates entire ‘on-the-fly’ user desktop environments via hardware terminals called ‘thin-clients’.
Let’s quickly explore both types.
1. Desktop Virtualization – running multiple instances of OS on a host
Once a virtual machine (VM) has been created it can be used as a separate virtual computer within your physical computer using desktop virtualization software such as VMware or Virtual Box.
Benefits of Desktop Virtualization
- Allows the installing of new, demo, and various ‘flavors’ of operating systems on the same physical computer without interfering or 'disturbing' with the existing OS.
- You can install and experiment any software in totally different computer. If anything goes wrong it's only inside virtual machine which will not affect live computer. You can do any kind of testing before you go to live.
- Allows you to move, export and import virtual machines easily between different computers.
- Allows you to repurpose unused resources on your computer.
- Save power, space, and money by having virtual machines. Also, desktop virtualization software helps to reduce heat. Can you imagine a situation to buy and keep another two computers in your office or room for testing purposes?
Desktop virtualization has had a huge impact in the Apple world with over 66 million Mac OSX users (a number that has tripled from 5 years ago) turning to software like VMware Fusion and Parallels Desktop to run windows programs on their Macs to get the best of both worlds.
2. Desktop Virtualization as VDI – virtualization using thin clients
Desktop virtualization type II, most commonly referred to as VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure) allows users to retain their own desktops but that stack runs in a virtual machine on a server – so users can operate multiple systems on a single piece of hardware.
According to Forbes, providers of VDI technology say their systems can save between 30% and 50% of the current cost for IT administrators to manage, patch, upgrade and support employees' PCs in a client/server environment. Aside from the cost, there are several other benefits to VDI.
Benefits of VDI
- Centralized management - can control, manage and secure all user environments in one central location. Administrators can make upgrades and patches to a core Windows OS image, then replicate this image out to the entire organization, instead of having to do this to each machine individually.
- Security – you have greater control of how you secure your desktop since all of the data is stored on the server and not the device itself. And if one of your employees misplaces their device, you don’t have to worry about exposure of sensitive data.
- Access - VDI Enables remote computing from any device, a thin client, PC, Apple, Linux, etc. as long as an individual can connect to the network they will have access to their desktop.
Virtual desktop solutions are popular for businesses today and there’s a good reason why. Think about it, what business wouldn’t rather manage hundreds of desktops from one central data center? And since you have total control, you save time and money associated with buying and maintaining new computers - allowing you to allocate these resources to other parts of your businesses that need it most.
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